ed with their geography, and the character of their inhabitants, Captain Cook at length took his departure from them, and on the 12th of August arrived at Otaheite. He found that a Spanish ship had touched here in the mean time, and had put on shore some cattle, of which a bull alone remained alive. He felt great pleasure, therefore, in augmenting the stock of the island with three or four heifers, besides a horse and mare, which were intended as a present to the king, Otoo. Two days after their arrival here, captains Cook and Clerke mounted on horseback, and took a ride round the plain of Matavai, to the great surprise of a multitude of the natives who attended upon the occasion, and gazed on the horsemen with as much astonishment as if they had been centaurs. What the two captajns had begun was afterwards repeated every day by the other ship's officers, notwithstanding which the curiosity of the Otaheitans still continued unabated. They were exceedingly delighted with these animals when they saw the use that was made of them. Not all the novelties put together which European visiters had carried among the inhabitants, had inspired them with so high an idea of the greatness of distant nations. Otoo was by no means ungrateful for the benefits conferred on him; he offered a small double canoe, very elegantly finished, as a present to king George; and he manifested his sense of respect still more strongly in expressing a wish that the English would establish a permanent settlement on the island. During this visit to Otaheite captain Cook had an opportunity of witnessing the fearful excesses to which these social islanders are hurried by superstition, and of observing the number of human sacrifices offered to their idols, on every occasion of war or other general excitement.

It only remained now to settle Omai in the island of Huaheine, which had been chosen as his residence. A piece of ground was allotted to him by the chiefs of the island ; a comfortable wooden house was erected for him by the carpenters of the ships. All the treasures which he had brought from England were landed, and the two young men from New Zealand, though reluctant, were prevailed on to remain with him, so that his family consisted altogether of twelve or thirteen persons. In order to deter the natives from treating him with injustice or violence, captain Cook spoke of returning at no great distance of time. Omai did not live long to enjoy his good fortune; it does not appear that he had any reason to complain of the rapacity or covetousness of his neighbours. The numerous articles of European manufacture which were in his possession, rendered his house a splendid museum of curiosities in the eyes of a South Sea islander; and it is possible that his pride felt gratified in being thus able to minister to their wonder and ad

miration. He conducted himself prudently, and gained the esteem of his neighbours by the affability with which he recounted his voyages and adventures. About two years and a half after captain Cook's departure, Omai died a natural death; nor did the New Zealanders survive him long enough to furnish European navigators with an ampler account of the influence which his experience and observations abroad may have exerted on his countrymen.



The Sandwich Islands discovered by Cook.-His Arrival at Nootka Sound.

Manners of the People.--Examination of the American Coast.-Cook's River..--Distance between Asia and America determined.-The Ships stopped by Ice in the Polar Sea.-The Russian Fur Traders.--Enterprise of Ledyard.

Return to the Sandwich Islands.-Owhyhee surveyed.-Friendliness of the Natives.---The Ships leave the Island, but are obliged to return.-Altered Condnct of the Natives.-Boat stolen.-Fatal Affray.--Death of Cook. Second Attempt to navigate the Polar Sea.-Death of Captain Clark and of Anderson.- Arrival at Macao.-Generous Conduct of the French Government.-Sale of Furs in Canton.-Effect of sudden Riches on the Seamen.-Return of the Expedition.-Merits of Cook.-His Discoveries.-His Surveys and Observations.-Care of his Seamen's Health.-Results of his Voyages. New Holland colonised.-Trade in the Pacific.

On the 8th of December our voyagers left Borabora, and lost sight of the Society Islands; their course was towards the north, and, on the 18th of January, in lat. 21° N., land was discovered, which proved to be an island of considerable size, and beyond it two others successively became visible. As the ships approached the second island, a number of canoes came off from the shore, and the English were no less pleased than surprised to hear the natives speaking the language of Otaheite. When they came on board, they expressed their astonishment at the numerous strange objects that met their eyes, with more lively emotions than captain Cook had ever yet witnessed anong savage nations. They did not appear to be quite ignorant of iron, yet the wonder and surprise they displayed at every thing they saw left little room to doubt that they were wholly unacquainted with Europeans. When captain Cook went on shore, the people fell flat on their faces before him, as if rendering homage to a superior being. The island was amply provided with the necessaries of life; pigs, fowls, and fruits were purchased advantageously; and captain Cook made an important addition to the natural wealth of the island, by putting on shore some of his live stock. Among other articles brought by the natives for trade were cloaks and helmets, beautifully made with red and yellow feathers. These islanders were not inferior to the inhabitants of the more southerly groups in ingenuity or friendliness of disposition. They seemed to captain Cook to be less fickle and voluptuous than the natives of Otaheite, and less sullenly grave than those of Tongataboo; but his growing partiality to them was checked on discovering that they occasionally banqueted on human flesh. Of the group now for the first time visited, only five islands were seen by captain Cook, and to these, in compliment to his noble patron, the first lord of the admiralty, he gave collectively the name of the Sandwich Islands.

It only remained now to accomplish the specific object of the voyage, by examining the north-west coast of America, and particularly by trying to effect a passage into the Atlantic Ocean, round the northern extremity of that continent. On the 7th of March our navigators made the coast of New Albion in lat. 44° 33. The inhabitants of this country were clad in furs which they offered for sale; they conducted themselves civilly towards the English, but were remarkably tenacious of the rights of property, and expected payment for every thing even the wood and water which the strangers took from the shore. They displayed considerable ingenuity, and were acquainted with iron, although in all their dealings they gave the preference to brass, in consequence of which the sailors, in bartering for furs, parted with all their buttons. Among other articles procured from these people by exchange were two silver spoons, which, as well as the iron, were supposed by captain Cook to have been obtained by a circuitous inland trade, either from the Spaniards in Mexico, or the English factories in Hudson's Bay. He was not aware that this coast had been surveyed by the Spaniards four years previously; and that while the Spanish vessels lay here, the natives had exercised with great success their thieving propensities. To this part of the coast he gave the name of King George's Sound, but the native name of Nootka has since prevailed.

On leaving Nootka Sound, the violence of the wind compelled him to keep at a distance from the shore, so that for some degrees he was foiled in his intention of surveying it; but, in lat. 59°, he entered another wide inlet, to which he gave the name of Prince William's Sound, and here was surprised to find that the natives, in dress, language, and physical peculiarities, were exactly like the Esquimaux of Hudson's Bay. Beautiful skins were obtained in plenty from these people for a very moderate price, On proceeding to the north-west, a wide inlet was discovered, which some conjectured might be a strait communicating with the Northern Ocean. It was deemed, therefore, advisable to explore it; but when the boats had proceeded as high as lat. 61° 34' or about 70 leagues from the entrance, the inlet appeared to terminate in a small river. The ships now proceeded to the west, and doubled the great promontory of Alashka; and, on the 9th of August, they reached the most westerly point of the American continent, distant only 13 leagues from the opposite shores of Asia. To this headland Cook gave the name of Cape Prince of Wales. Crossing the strait to the western shores, he anchored near the coast of the Tshuktzki, which he found to extend many degrees further to the east than the position assigned to them in the maps of that day. He thus ascertained distinctly the width of the strait that separates Asia from America; for though Behring had sailed through it before, he had not descried the shores of the latter continent, and, consequently, remained ignorant of the importance of his discoveries. Our navigators now pushed forward into the Northern Ocean, when they soon fell in with ice, which gave them reason to suspect the impossibility of continuing their voyage much further. At length, on the 18th of August, when after repeated struggles they had attained the lat. of 70° 44', they saw the ice before them, extending as far as the eye could reach, forming a compact wall about six feet high: it was covered with a multitude of walruses or sea-horses, which, though coarse food, were preferred by the seamen to salt provisions. exceed very far in magnitude and importance the other islands of the group, engaged a proportionate share of attention, and captain Cook employed seven weeks in sailing round and surveying its coasts. At length the ships came to an anchor in Karakakooa Bay, on the south side of the island. The natives came off to the vessels in canoes laden with provisions, and in such multitudes, that captain Cook in the whole course of his voyages had never seen so numerous a body of people assembled in one place. Many hundreds of them were swimming round the ships like shoals of fishes. The interesting novelty of this scene compensated our voyagers, in some degree, for the disappointment they had experienced in their expedition to the north. “To this disappointment," says captain Cook, “ we owed our having it in our power to revisit the Sandwich Islands, and to enrich our voyage with a discovery, which, though the last, seemed in many respects to be the most important that had hitherto been made by Europeans throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean." Such is the concluding sentence of our great navigator's journal.

It was now obviously impossible to advance, and Cook therefore resolved to employ the winter in completing his survey of the Sandwich Islands, and to renew his attempts in the Northern Ocean in the course of the following summer. On his arrival at Oonalashka he received, through the hands of the natives, a present of a salmon pie, and a note which, though unintelligible, was known to be Russian. Corporal Ledyard, of the marines, who afterwards became so distinguished as an enterprising traveller, now for the first time figured on the scene, and volunteered to go in search of the hospitable Russians. He was accordingly packed between the legs of two Esquimaux in a kajack or covered canoe, and in this uncomfortable state was rowed a distance of fourteen miles. In two days he returned with three Russian furriers; and shortly after, a Russian merchant, named Ismiloff, arrived, who showed cap. tain Cook two charts, which satisfied our great navigator as to the limited acquaintance which the Russians had with the northwest coast of America, and the undisputed merit of his own discoveries.

On the 26th of November, in lat. 20° 55', our navigators discovered Mowee, one of the Sandwich Islands which they had not visited ; and on the last day of the month another great isl. and, called Owhyhee, was discovered, which, as it appeared to

[ocr errors]

The intercourse of our people with the islanders was an uninterrupted series of acts of kindness on both sides, the mutual harmony being only momentarily disturbed by the thieving propensities of the natives. Provisions were procured in the greatest abundance, and captain Cook made the experiment of salting a quantity of pork for sea stores; and he succeeded so completely, that when the ships returned to Europe, some of the pork cured in the Sandwich Islands was found to be still in good order. A society of priests on the island were particularly active in forwarding the views of the English, and procuring them the sort of provisions they required. They even sent a large quantity to the ships as a present. The king of Owhyhee, Tereeoboo, was actuated by the same friendly zeal as his subjects; and in his dealings with captain Cook evinced sincere attachment, as well as the liberality befitting a prince. The islanders had conceived a particular liking for lieutenant King, and warmly solicited him to remain among them. When the day of departure arrived, they seemed inconsolable at their loss, and heaped whatever presents their island afforded on Cook and his companions.

Such were the friendly sentiments of the natives when the ships sailed out of Karakakooa Bay, on the 4th of September. It was captain Cook's intention to make a complete survey of the islands; but before he had proceeded far a gale of wind came on, in the course of which the Resolution sprung her foremast in so dangerous a manner, that it was deemed necessary to return to Karakakooa Bay in order to repair it.

When the ships arrived at their old anchorage, the bay was

« ForrigeFortsett »